Zombie Nation

thatcher1Here’s a film by Adam Curtis ‘The Living Dead’ – about how Britain thrives on fictional notions of the past. It’s a powerful reminder of why it’s an irredeemable state. It starts with the best corrective to the flood of Thatcher propaganda have been awash with these last few weeks.

Curtis film-maker writes: “It’s about how she constructed a fake ghostly version of Britain’s past, and then used it to maintain her power. But also how she became possessed and haunted by this vision.

I’m putting it up as a bit of a corrective to the terrifying wonk-fest that took over after Mrs Thatcher died. A conveyor belt of Think Tank pundits and allied operatives poured into the TV studios and together they built a fortress around Mrs Thatcher’s memory that was rooted in theories about economics.

They did this because economics is the only language that wonks understand. It’s a view of the world where they see the voters – the people who put Mrs Thatcher in power – as simplified consumption-driven robots.

What was missing was the fact that Mrs Thatcher was also a powerful romantic politician who created a strange but compelling story about Britain’s past that connected with the imagination of millions of people. It was fake, but it was incredibly powerful because she believed it. And the power of her belief raised up ghostly dreams from Britain’s past that still live in people’s imaginations – long after she fell from power.”

Comments (11)

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  1. SCED300 says:

    This whole approach is being perpetuated with the celebration of the start of WW1 next year. One only needs to read the comments of those in the UK Government selling this idea to see it is not a commemoration.

    1. Coinneach mac Raibeart says:

      Correct. It’s a celebration. They intend to celebrate the *beginning* of a war; a war in which 150 000 Scots died. Are they celebrating the deaths of those 150 000 Scots?

  2. Ray Bell says:

    The biggest myth is WWII:

    * Britain stood alone – on the shoulders of empire with umpteen allies and not just America.
    * Spirit of Dunkirk – not only were the boats commandeered but the 51st Highlanders were left behind.
    * Spirit of the Blitz – as Angus Calder proved rape and pillage were frequent,
    * United against the Nazis – the aristocracy was hanging out with them before the war.
    * Churchill – have you ever checked out his other opinions?


    And references to Englain were more common than Britland.

  3. If you set two images of the Thatcher funeral, the coffin on the gun carriage and George Osborne’s tears, in the context of this film you realise how powerful the concept of great Britain as it was still endures. I always felt Thatcher was a backward looking Prime Minister.

  4. Ray Bell says:

    “I always felt Thatcher was a backward looking Prime Minister.”

    I don’t although she loved to wear the clothing. Her introduction of Manchester liberalism into the Tories, presidential style, preference for new money over old, love of the stock market, scientific background, grammar school background etc are not old school British.

    Old fashioned over Europe, war etc, but new in many ways especially her liberalism and Americanisation.

  5. Ray Bell,

    I am left, well, dead, by this. My own prejudices against upper class, English aristocrats, with accents that tell you pretty much what they will say before they say it, are damned near confirmed.

    And it was I that thought all prejudice were mistaken and wrong!

    I do not accept that she learned an iota from her scientific background.

    Out of interest, what liberalism did you see in Margaret Thatcher?

    1. Ray Bell says:

      She was a Manchester-style Liberal and her economic policies were neo-liberal. She was more liberal than Tory.

      Left wingers should beware the word “liberal”, because we are not. The Guardian and Yanks think otherwise and misuse the term. I’m a radical not a liberal.

  6. John Souter says:

    The English Establishments Enlightenment – based on middle class primogeniture

    To be a duck all you had to do was quack like one..

  7. John Souter,

    Fascinating. Do they really still believe in primogeniture? What an interesting tribe to investigate, anthropologically speaking..

    Just joking.

  8. Helen Johnson says:

    Thank you so much for posting this Adam Curtis documentary. His work is brilliant but why it is almost impossible to find any of it on DVD?

  9. Hetty says:

    Almost unbeareable to watch sooo many right wing snobs, some of whom I couldn’t understand at all, due to their accents, the rubbish they spouted, when it was possible to tell what they were saying, was just typical of these sort, born into money/land etc telling those not so fortunate how to live their lives and to know their place and obey only them. Urgh, these people actually thought they were better than the rest of the population, that sort still do!!
    I liked the old black and white films shots, all at the right time! Will look for more A. Curtis films…something that the Side gallery/Amber films in Newcastle might show or sell dvd’s of?

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